Correlations which will be developed in the near future are crucial for energy, not just for the forthcoming years but for decades to come.
It is now the time to fully harness the potential of Greece's energy sector.
So we meticulously proceed with the implementation of the energy market reform, which is already delivering concrete results, and we are speeding up efforts towards an open, competitive and transparent market:
Firstly, we are completing the consolidation efforts whilst creating an energy strategy for the future.
We have now avoided the "dead end" of asymmetrical growth and mounting deficits. We continue the transition towards a lower carbon economy, which is an essential part of the EU energy policy, in a more balanced way. This policy no longer means trade-offs in other significant energy aspects, such as enhancing industrial competitiveness and protecting vulnerable consumers.
Secondly, we are speeding up development of crucial energy infrastructures.
In electricity, we are progressively ending the energy isolation of our islands in the Aegean Sea. We have already promoted grid extension to Cyclades in the next few years, with a view to expanding the grid up to Crete.
In gas, Greece is an integral part of the "Southern Corridor", the most ambitious energy infrastructure project underway in Europe. Through the Trans Adriatic Pipeline, Greece becomes a strategic entrance of energy supplies in the South-East Europe. Furthermore, we are already in the process of upgrading the existing LNG terminal in Revithoussa, whereas a second LNG terminal in northern Greece is also in the pipeline for the coming years.
The third pillar of our policy, is the development of an open, competitive and transparent market through the liberalization process in the electricity and gas markets.
In electricity, we are moving ahead with the reform of the regulatory framework concerning the wholesale electricity market. More transparent, simpler and robust rules are being introduced, leading to more efficient and cost-effective operation and more investment opportunities towards the sustainable development of the market.
In gas, we are clearing the path towards a fully competitive gas market through a fundamentally reformed market design, signifying the transition from the existing regime to a fully regulated distribution regime, with free choice of supplier for all customers. We are putting forward the gradual transition to a mature and fully liberalized market, stimulating favorable investment conditions and distributing the benefits of a functional liberalized market to the consumers.
The fourth pillar of our energy policy is strengthening its external dimension to enhance our geopolitical role in South-East Europe.
We all know that strengthening Europe's energy security is not a new objective. But it has gained added urgency, manifested clearly by the recent Ukrainian crisis and the ongoing tensions in the Middle East, such as the international threat of ISIS.
These events serve as a "wake-up call" of the importance of energy security and stability in our region, and most importantly they certify the importance of diversifying supplies and fully exploiting indigenous resources.
Therefore, by opening up the energy market and attracting foreign investment directed to energy infrastructure, we are laying the foundation for the emergence of Greece as a strategic entrance of energy supplies in the South-East Europe.
Furthermore, we strongly promote the beginning of a new era in oil and gas exploration activities in our country. The 2nd International round of Concessions, consisting of 20 blocks in the Ionian and Cretan Seas is under way. And we have recently concluded the contracts for the concession of 3 more blocks in Western Greece.
Moreover, we are stepping up efforts and energy cooperation with our partners in the broader region, sharing the vision that exploiting the potential of the recent hydrocarbon discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean, with due respect for International Law, could lay the foundations for geopolitical stability, energy security, and economic growth.
In these challenging times for the broader Eastern Mediterranean region, Greece actively participates to a series of developments that all sum up to one demand: regional stability and security.
The importance of the energy sector to Greece's competitiveness, welfare and geopolitical role in the region means that we cannot afford to slow down efforts towards a more liberalized, more interconnected, more effective energy market.
And now, more than ever, it is the time for us to act collectively upon it.